Coach's Corner: Tom Radke 9/2
By Tom Radke
The Coach’s Corner is a place where several area coaches will give their views on the state of coaching at the high school level.
Many large schools run a platoon system in the metro area. We are a 4A school in Kansas with a total enrollment of 500 students and use the platoon system very effectively. I am confident that we beat larger schools last year because of our platoon system. By the end of the game we were fresher, faster, and played more as a unit. We were able to do this successfully with six coaches responsible for the varsity, junior varsity, and freshman teams.
How can you make it work with very few coaches? Have a great coaching staff, make sure everyone is on board, and be flexible. Some athletes play both ways, but we make sure to give them a rest every other series.
We do not have a draft, and we don’t lock kids into a position. We practice offense and defense individual period everyday for 15 minutes, which ensures athletes that play both ways, will be ready to go when called upon. This also provides an advantage to those athletes that may be recruited to play a different position at the collegiate level, as they are familiar with positions on both sides of the ball.
We start our freshman and JV athletes on both sides of the ball so that we can evaluate their strengths for at least two years before they reach the varsity level. This allows us to identify our areas of weakness and work with players to fill those positions.
Why we like it? Ownership, ownership, ownership. Athletes on either side of the ball take ownership in their position. When we go best on best, there is way more competition, energy, and enthusiasm. It also minimizes the amount of time that players are standing around idle.
Our freshman offense works against our varsity defense during team platoon period. Our defense does not go full speed during this time, but our defensive backs and linebackers get to see a lot of different looks, and we focus on 11 guys flying to the ball during this period.
This also gives us an opportunity to see what kind of talent is coming in at the freshman level. Our JV defense goes against our varsity offense, which allows us to get through a lot of plays (we average 80-90 plays run in a practice).We then go best on best for 10 minutes and do a situational period (goal line, 2-minute) for five minutes to end practice.
So yes, the little guys can platoon, too. With a small coaching staff it takes a lot of planning and organization, but if you utilize all players at all grade levels you can get it done, and be very successful with it.
Tom Radke is the coach for Piper High School.
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